If you’re asking: “how much do UFC ring girls make?” you’re not alone. The octagon girls salaries have been a subject of discussions amongst enthusiasts and fans.
To you and every other fan, they are a common sight that you hold no special attention to.
Aside from the periodic appearance octagon girls make, where they hold the sign in their stunning shape and bikinis, you may not think much of them.
But the ring girls’ history in the UFC and other combat sports are intertwined into the history of the sport itself and hold as much value (though incognizant to most fans) as other match officials.
In this article, we unravel every detail about how much UFC ring girls earns, the top earners, as well as the facts about the role they play in UFC buyouts and the controversies surrounding them in the top MMA promotion.
So, How Much Do UFC Ring Girls Make Per Fight?
Despite the difference in popularity, UFC ring girls have a similar base pay, with each earning about $1,000 per fight and up to $5,000 per event.
However, the pay goes a little higher in pay-per-view events, and depending on how contentious the bout is, UFC octagon girls receive more pay.
Their annual earnings vary between $20,000 to $50,000. With other side hustles, UFC ring girls like Arianny Celeste make up to $1 million a year.
Compensation and bonuses also add to the pay of the octagon girls but still rely mainly on the toughly contested bout as well as the financial returns on the pay-per-view event.
To give us a sense of how much UFC ring girls make, we present the top octagon girls salaries and their yearly income.
Top 7 Highest-Paid UFC Octagon Girls (By Annual Salaries)
7. Rachelle Leah
Annual Salary: $20,000
At the age of 19, Rachelle Leah began her career as a ring girl in the UFC, and years down the line, she remains one of the most prominent octagon girls in the promotion.
Leah began modeling at the age of 18, and before she was hired by the UFC, she modeled for Ford Motor Company.
She was also a regular face on several television shows such as The Nick and Jessica Variety Hour, talk show The View and late-night television show Last Call with Carson Daly.
A year after starting as a model, Leah’s picture was seen on a website by a UFC staff who brought her on board to join the swelling ranks of the UFC octagon girls.
After being hired by the promotion, Leah also worked other modeling gigs.
She hosted shows for the UFC, such as the MMA promotion flagship reality show, The Ultimate Fighter, and other shows for the Spike television channel, such as Spike TV’s Women of Action and Spike’s Sexiest NYC Bartenders, and Casino Cinema.
Leah also featured on the covers of men’s entertainment magazines such as 944 Magazine, Muscle & Fitness, Steppin’ Out, Playboy, and Maxim.
As an octagon girl in the UFC, Rachelle Leah earns $20,000 annually.
6. Vanessa Hanson
Annual Salary: $20,000
One of California’s top models, Vanessa Hanson’s foray into the UFC as an octagon girl was in style.
After graduation from college, Vanessa Hanson settled for a career in modeling, and after being crowned winner of the Transworld Surf’s 2011 UFC Model Search, she was invited to be a guest UFC Octagon girl at UFC 136.
However, her flair for the job made her a regular octagon girl and one of the best in the profession.
Though the promotion takes most of her time, Hanson is signed to Los Angeles Tricia Brink Management, Miami’s CGM Models, and Toronto’s Dulcedo Models.
She has a plethora of modeling gigs which has seen her work with GQ, Tory Burch, Cosmopolitan, FHM, Jaguar, Maxim, Joico, Heineken, Nasty Girl, and Self Magazine.
Hanson also has an interest in yoga as she co-owns Olive Yoga, a yoga studio in Long Beach, California.
For her job as a UFC octagon girl, Vanessa Hanson earns $20,000 yearly.
5. Carly Baker
Annual Salary: $30,000
English model Carly Barker is no stranger to the world of modeling, as her talent was caught at an early age.
At the young age of 14, Carly Barker had started modeling, and she was very good at it.
She emerged the winner of a modeling competition organized by Shout, a teen magazine, and Barker became the face of Tammy Girl.
Her early success as a model soon caught the attention of the UFC, who added her to their elite octagon girl lists.
Baker, thus, rose through the ranks in the UFC to become one of the most popular in MMA. Aside from her gig in the UFC, Carly Baker had other endeavors outside of the promotion.
She competed in the Miss Great Britain pageant and had a brief entertainment stint with the pop group, Mynxsters, as well as SW1 and Holla.
Carly Baker earns as much as $30,000 for her UFC octagon girl role.
4. Chrissy Blair
Annual Salary: $30,000
A model with so much moxie and flair, Chrissy Blair is one UFC superstar octagon girl.
For years and numerous UFC bouts which have made headlines, Blair has been one of the top picks to walk the octagon in its pre-match custom.
Blair’s foray into the UFC as an octagon girl dates back to 2011 when she won the 2011 Miss TransWorld Motocross.
She soon was invited as a guest octagon girl in UFC 133, and in March 2013, it was announced that Blair would be the latest regular addition. Since then, Blair has been one of the top UFC octagon girls.
Away from the promotion, Blair has starred on the cover of Sports Illustrated magazine, GUESS magazine, and Maxim. The star model also has a degree in graphics design and fine arts.
Chrissy Blair earns as much as $30,000 annually from being a UFC octagon girl.
3. Brittney Palmer
Annual Salary: $30,000
In the world of MMA, Brittney Palmer needs no introduction. Palmer’s popularity in the UFC and MMA is comparable to the popularity of the MMA fighters.
Palmer, who has always been interested in arts from a young age, began her career by painting and art to express herself after surviving an accident that left her bedridden.
She went to study Art History and Classic Portraiture at the University of California, Los Angeles.
At the age of 18, Palmer ventured into modeling, which saw her work as a ring girl for World Extreme Cagefighting, but she ventured into the UFC.
Palmer’s modeling career has seen her model for top magazines such as Inside Fitness, Maxim, Playboy, FHM, and Fitness Gurls.
Despite her demanding job as a UFC octagon girl and model, Palmer still juggles other endeavors.
She is dedicated to her arts which have been displayed in galleries in cities such as Milan, Hong Kong, New York, Los Angeles, and Miami.
Her life as a popular personality has seen her forged commercial collaborations with brands such as W Hotels, Reebok, and W hotels.
Palmer’s talent for being an exceptional ring girl has earned her the Ringcard Girl of the Year award in 2012, 2013, and most recently, 2019.
Brittney Palmer earns $30,000 for her role as a UFC octagon girl.
2. Camila Oliveira
Annual Salary: $50,000
Brazilians in the UFC have a reputation for being the best of their peers, and Camila Oliveira though not being a fighter, confirms the truth of that assertion by being one of the best octagon girls in the UFC.
A top-rated model, Camila Oliveira doubles as a TV host.
Right from the age of 16, Camila Oliveira had already begun pursuing a career in modeling, and soon that landed her a ring girl job in the UFC, making her the first Brazilian ring girl in the MMA promotion.
In January 2021, Camila Oliveira made headlines during UFC 257 when she took advantage of the high-profile fight between Conor McGregor and Dustin Poirier to promote her X-rated website to about 1.5 million viewers that also tuned in to watch the fight.
Camila Oliveira, who regularly thrills fans with racy pictures of herself, earns $50,000 as a UFC girl.
1. Arianny Celeste
Annual Salary: $1 Million
Few come close, but none measure up to the reach, influence, and popularity of Arianny Celeste as the best ring girl in the UFC.
Celeste, who studied Fitness management and nutrition at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, is a longtime UFC girl, having made her debut in the UFC in 2006. Since then, she has walked the UFC octagon as the top-earning octagon girl.
On seven occasions, Arianny Celeste has emerged as the Ringcard Girl of the Year at the World MMA Award, making her the indisputable best ring girl in the UFC.
In July 2010, she began hosting UFC Ultimate Insider, the weekly MMA sports television show.
Apart from her job as a UFC octagon girl, Arianny Celeste models full-time. She had modeled for top magazines such as Sports Illustrated, Playboy, and Maxim.
Celeste has also appeared on the international men’s magazine Maxim’s hot list for five successive years.
In UFC video games, Arianny Celeste has been a regular figure. She has appeared as an octagon girl in the games UFC Undisputed 2010, UFC Undisputed 3, EA Sports UFC, and EA Sports UFC 2 video games.
Arianny Celeste is the highest-earning UFC ring girl, with about $1 million a year, which is roughly 25% of MMA fighters’ annual earnings.
UFC Ring Girls Controversies
“Ring girls are the most useless people in martial arts” – Khabib Nurmagomedov
In August 2021, MMA legend and the longest-reigning UFC lightweight champion, Khabib Nurmagomedov put the ring girls not just in the UFC but in the MMA in the spotlight for the wrong reasons when he declared that “ring girls are the most useless people in martial arts.”
Nurmagomedov’s comment at a Moscow press conference came on the heels of his acquisition of the Russian MMA promotion Gorilla Fighting Championship, which he rebranded to become Eagle Fighting Championship.
The Russian MMA legend maintained that while he does not wish to get on the wrong side of anyone, ring girls would not be a part of his rebranded MMA promotion.
Khabib Nurmagomedov drew blood even further by questioning the importance of ring girls in MMA while stating that ring girls are “the most useless people in martial arts”.
Nurmagomedov, however, admitted that history may be behind these girls’ constant appearances in combat sports, but that did little to sway him as he revealed that “history knows many mistakes” and “if we look in the history, it says they are useless.”
He ended his comment on the use of ring girls in MMA by asserting that his comments are his personal opinion.
But when a veteran fighter, an esteemed and highly respected figure in MMA questions ring girls’ relevance to the sports, it is indeed bound to cast the same doubt on their usefulness in the minds of fans.
Though Nurmagomedov’s opinion is not in any way new, it represents the first time a major stakeholder in MMA has spoken out against a beloved tradition of MMA.
“Either the ring card girls are paid too much, or the fighters aren’t paid enough” – Ronda Rousey
In rare instances, UFC ring girls have been at the wrong end of disputes with their female athletics counterparts, with the difference in wage being the bone of contention.
In 2015, UFC superstar and former bantamweight champion, Ronda Rousey protested against the discrepancies in wages between ring girls and female athletes.
Rousey rhetorically asked if the ring girls’ jobs were worth more than the fighters and capped her argument by stating that “either the ring card girls are paid too much, or the fighters aren’t paid enough.”
In her argument, Rousey defended the ring girls’ job but emphasized that the job is not indispensable to the UFC as the fighters’ job and that she wasn’t impressed with the job.
She also stated that she respects ring girls like Brittney Palmer, who took up the job to sponsor herself through art school, but that still doesn’t make it an impressive job.
UFC ring girl and model Arianny Celeste reprised Ronda Rousey’s argument by calling her a big bully and stating that the ring girl model job is not an easy one.
The question as to how much UFC ring girls make, and the relevance of ring girls to the UFC and all combat sports is one that would always be on the minds of critics.
In a similar fashion as Khabib Nurmagomedov, people would air opinions on their lack of relevance.
But in keeping with the customs of all combat sports and the sense of normalcy fans are used to, ring girls or octagon girls in the UFC is a sight that fans would continue to enjoy for the foreseeable future.
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Featured Image: @camyss / Instagram